The Cook Island Women’s Rugby League representatives are on hand to help launch a joint initiative between the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Cook Islands Rugby Union that aims to help promote healthy lifestyles.
Natua said coming to Rarotonga is a dream come true. “Honestly, it’s something we always wanted to do, it is actually quite emotional,” she said.
“I have a strong passion for rugby and my people and to be able to combine them both is quite cool.”
After taking Year 7 students from Nukutere through a session of Quick Rip, the women hosted a quick question and answer session from the kids and both were surprised with the response.
“We didn’t think kids here would be as engaged as they were – it was quite unexpected,” said Ngata-Aerengamate.
“It was cool being home and being back around the language and being here through rugby to teach them and see the talent out there. It’s just cool we have given them this opportunity.
“It’s really humbling to be home and to give back to our people.”
Ngata-Aerengamate said they hope to show the next generation that it is possible to reach the same heights as them.
“We can hopefully inspire both the boys and girls to be at that level and to travel the world, as well as showing them there is something beyond the reef.”
The launch of the Cook Islands rugby programme forms part of the Pacific Sporting Partnerships – Sports for Health initiative announced by the New Zealand government in 2016.
The programme is a partnership between New Zealand Rugby and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and is designed as one way to address chronic non-communicable diseases in the Pacific.